I've returned, as promised! I tentatively expect to post a new blog each Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday, and sometimes Saturday. It removes some of the joy by scheduling it like this, but I'll get used to it. One of the downsides of this Ultima blog is that after about halfway through Serpent Isle, it's almost all downhill, with the shortened Serpent Isle plot, followed by Ultima VIII, and then Ultima IX. Speaking of which, I need a game disc for Ultima IX. Maybe I can find one on eBay.
Anyway, today was the Forge of Virtue! At least the second half was. The first half of today's adventure was Wander Around Trying to Find the Flying Carpet Because I Forgot Where I Put It, Dammit. I never found it, and instead spent 800 gold on a ship at the Britain shipwright, but not before killing Lord British with a well-placed plate to the skull, reflective of a real-life (but thankfully nonfatal) incident that happened to Richard Garriott.
The Forge of Virtue is one of my favorite sequences of any of the games, because it shows a detailed understanding of the series' history. Just chatting with Erethian, the mage that runs the place, we get in quick sucession references to the skull of Mondain, the Quicksword Enilno, the nature of Exodus (he emphasizes it was a "machine you destroyed"), the gem of immortality and the subsequent Shadowlords, and the gargoyles. It's this awareness of the rich history of the games that makes Ultima VII and Serpent Isle so spetacular, and the lack of it that makes Ultima VIII and Ultima IX such disappointments. In any case, I also stopped by to visit the Dark Core of Exodus--apparently, the thing was composed of a demonic psyche of some kind, the dark core, and a control mechanism which I destroyed in Ultima III. So the poster who recently called the ending of Ultima III a "fourth wall type ending" with Exodus as a mainframe with a medieval interpretation is more or less right, except there is some kind of distinct magical or demonic element to Exodus.
Speaking of the fourth wall, one of the humorous instances where Ultima breaks through it is if you start Ultima VII without a mouse. Give it a try.
The rest of my time was spent wandering around the Test of Truth, by accident--I didn't realize I would get teleported there by the statue who asked if I wanted the boon of truth. I remember the secret to beating it, but I wandered around just to remind myself how infuriating the dungeon really is. The thing is gigantic and full of not much treasure, but plenty of annoying traps. Shamino seems especially susceptible to being killed by explosions for some reason. in any case, I wandered around for wuite awhile, solving a "room of keys" to no apparent purpose, crossing another one of those neat bridges over the mountains, and lopping the heads off of many a troll. I had come close to heading back to the enterance to finish the test when the game locked up. I believe this is unique to DOSBox, and I don't know what causes it.
I'm debating how I should tackle the quest of Courage--my companions can help me kill monsters, but they sure die a lot. Should I take them with me or leave them behind? Hmm. Before I venture in there, I need to remember to drop off some of my magic junk in my ship's hold so that I don't have to carry it around anymore. I remember managing to fit some barrels on the magic carpet at one point and use them as a ship's hold...But I won't be able to try that again if I can't find it :-(
Thanks to all for your patience. I am becoming settled in my new home--Lexington, Kentucky, USA for those interested. I expect sporadic absences from my planned blogging routine since there's still a fair number of things I need to accomplish outside of work.
One of which is upload all those missing screenshots! Argh. I shall get to that soon, it's just a bit of a tedious chore.